December Jobs Report: 2018 Goes Out With A Bang


  • +312,000 jobs added
  • U3 unemployment rate rose +0.2% from 3.7% to 3.9% 
  • U6 underemployment rate unchanged at 7.6% 

Here are the headlines on wages and the broader measures of underemployment:

Wages and participation rates

  • Not in Labor Force, but Want a Job Now:  declined -70,000 from 5.397 million to 5.327 million   
  • Part time for economic reasons: declined - 124,000 from 4.781 million to 4.657 million 
  • Employment/population ratio ages 25-54: unchanged at 79.7% 
  • Average Hourly Earnings for Production and Nonsupervisory Personnel: rose $.09 from  $22.95 to $23.05, up +3.4% YoY.  (Note: you may be reading different information about wages elsewhere. They are citing average wages for all private workers. I use wages for nonsupervisory personnel, to come closer to the situation for ordinary workers.) 

Holding Trump accountable on manufacturing and mining jobs

 Trump specifically campaigned on bringing back manufacturing and mining jobs.  Is he keeping this promise?  

  • Manufacturing jobs rose +32,000 for an average of +24.000/month in the past year vs. the last seven years of Obama's presidency in which an average of +10,300 manufacturing jobs were added each month.   
  • Coal mining jobs rose +600 for an average of +175/month vs. the last seven years of Obama's presidency in which an average of -300 jobs were lost each month

October was revised upward by +21,000. November was also revised upward by +37,000, for a net change of +56,000.

The more leading numbers in the report tell us about where the economy is likely to be a few months from now. These were positive.

  • the average manufacturing workweek rose +0.1 hours from 40.8 hours to 40.9 hours. This is one of the 10 components of the LEI.
  • construction jobs rose by +32,000. YoY construction jobs are up +284,000.  
  • temporary jobs rose by +10,300. The strong YoY trend remains intact.
  • the number of people unemployed for 5 weeks or less fell by -2,000 from 2,128,000 to 2,126,000.  The post-recession low was set seven months ago at 2,034,000.
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